Duvar English / Anadolu Agency
Turkey on Aug. 31 hailed remarks from Pope Francis calling for dialogue in the Eastern Mediterranean and for conflicting sides in the region to act in line with international law.
Fahrettin Altun, the head of Turkey's Communications Directorate, on Twitter "welcomed" Francis' words, adding: "Turkey calls on Greece, among others, to respect international law, instead of militarizing the Aegean islands and laying claim to our Blue Homeland."
"The Mediterranean should be a sea of peace and stability."
I welcome @Pontifex statement on the Eastern Mediterranean.— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) August 31, 2020
Turkey calls on Greece, among others, to respect international law, instead of militarizing the Aegean islands and laying claim to our Blue Homeland.
The Mediterranean should be a sea of peace and stability. https://t.co/gVZ86jXijC
Earlier the same day, Francis said in a statement on social media: "I follow with concern the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean area and I appeal for constructive dialogue and respect for international law to resolve the conflicts that threaten the peace of the peoples of that region."
Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, vehemently disagree over claims to hydrocarbon resources in the area based on conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves in waters dotted with mostly Greek islands.
Both sides have held military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, highlighting the potential for the dispute over the extent of their continental shelves to escalate.Turkey says it is ready to 'dispatch armada' to east Med over Macron's 'red-line policy' remarks
On Aug. 31, the Turkish navy issued an advisory saying that its Oruç Reis exploration vessel will carry out seismic surveys in a disputed area of the Eastern Mediterranean until Sept. 12. The vessel had previously been scheduled to work until Sept. 1.
The advisory came after the European Union's executive earlier on Aug. 31 called for dialogue with Turkey and demanded that Ankara refrain from unilateral steps that stoke tensions
Greece's foreign ministry called the advisory illegal and urged Turkey to ease tensions and work for stability in the region.
"Turkey continues to ignore calls for dialogue and to escalate its provocations," the ministry said in a statement. "Greece won't be blackmailed."